Introduction: How to Make the Explorer Paper Airplane

Designed to replace the Super Cardinal paper airplane, the Explorer is a fast, small "drone-cruiser" paper airplane. The Explorer's greater abilities stem from its better aerodynamics, which are more advanced than the Super Cardinal's. In spite of its small size, the Explorer can accommodate many additional surfaces and features easily.

The Explorer was designed in late September 2012 to succeed the Super Cardinal as a faster, more efficient small cruiser. In the design process, the aircraft's shape changed considerably, as did many of its features. Much of this refinement was enabled by advances that came about from the Super SkyManx, which introduced many new ideas and concepts. Eventually, after the best configuration was found, I tested the prototype and found its performance excellent. The Explorer was subsequently allotted an instructable.

The Explorer is a great choice for educators to use as an exploratory research testbed airplane.

Some usages for educators could include studies of:
  • Glide ratio
  • Hangtime versus other aircraft
  • Weight and balance
TAA USAF Designation: D251-1

Step 1: Materials

Required:
1 Piece of 8.5 by 11 inch Paper
Tape
Scissors
Ruler
Pencil

Step 2: Begin Construction

First, begin by folding your your graph paper in half (excluding three boxes on the perforated side). Once the paper has been folded appropriately, make two marks--11 full boxes apart. Use a ruler to make a straight line with the length of 11 boxes directly up 1 row of boxes from the two marks you just made. Then make the rudder and counterweight as shown. Follow the photograph markings. Then, mark out the wing spars and landing gear. 1.5 boxes back from the beginning of this line, make a dotted line vertically. 1 box in from the back, measure 2 boxes forward and make a solid line 2 boxes long. Once all is marked out, cut out the fuselage.

After the fuselage is made, take another sheet of paper that is folded in half along the lines of boxes. Mark out the wing as shown (3 boxes of chord at the root, by 4 boxes in width, with a sweep of 1 box eliminated every 2 boxes away from the fuselage). Then cut the wing out. Measure 2 boxes along the crease, measure two boxes upwards from one mark and make another point. Then draw a diagonal line connecting this new mark to the one further away. From the mark you just made, measure one box further away from the one now connected to the line and make a mark. Sketch a line between this mark and the other mark along the crease. Then cut the horizontal stabilizers out.

Solid lines indicate places to cut. Dotted lines indicate fold lines.

Note: 1 box = 0.25 inches

Step 3: Making the Fuselage

Cut out your fuselage and fold the counterweight into itself as shown. Then unfold the fuselage and cut the right vertical stabilizer off. Then restore the fold. Apply tape where designated. Then fold the fuselage forward at the vertical line beneath the vertical stabilizer. Once you have made the cut along the marked line, unfold.

Step 4: Applying the Wings

Cut out your wings and lay them out flat. Align the fuselage over top so the spars align with the wing as shown. Then apply tape. Cut off any excess. Flip the aircraft over and apply tape to the leading edge of the wing above the leading edge root extensions.

Once you have finished with the wings, cut out your horizontal stabilizers and slide them through the slit in the fuselage you made earlier. When through, fold them up and apply tape to the underside; then fold down. This will have completed your aircraft.

Step 5: Flight

Though very advanced aerodynamically, the Explorer paper airplane is a quite simple aircraft to fly. Launches of moderate speed at neutral or negative attitude result in best performance. Additional applicable surfaces include elevators, a trimmable rudder and air brakes. Enjoy!

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Bio: I am someone who mass produces paper airplanes and am always developing new designs. I post regular updates on Twitter and Google+. Follow me there ... More »
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